Department of Housing Preservation and Development is beefing up their heat enforcement efforts to make sure building owners are providing tenants with heat and hot water.
The number of inspection and maintenance teams will be doubled for the weekend.
In Connecticut, Governor Rell ordered a statewide Weekend Shelter Alert in anticipation of the bitterly cold temperatures forecasted for this weekend.
"The frigid weather predicted this weekend is public safety issue for those in need of shelter and heat. The organizations and local emergency officials that DSS and DEMHS will be contacting are critical partners in helping to protect the most vulnerable individuals,"" said Governor Rell.
A 2-1-1 Infoline is also available for people who need help and for local shelters that need referral information when they stretch capacity limits.
Keeping the Cold Outside
Homeowners can take steps to protect their homes and energy costs from skyrocketing during the bitter cold.
"The cold air actually sucks the warm air out of the house with it, especially if your attic is not insulated. It's going right out the top," said Bob Markovich.
Starting at the bottom in the basement, the home and yard editor for Consumer Reports showed me a few quick fixes to cut your energy costs, starting with pipe wrap to keep them insulated.
Turn your thermostat down 5 to 10-degress at night and when you're away and you will see a 20-percent reduction in energy costs.
Here's an energy saver that's free. During the day, raise the blinds in your house. Let the sunlight and radiant heat come into the room. At night, lower the blind to keep the heat in the room.
On the doors add or replace the weather stripping to block those chilly drafts. On the windows, maybe use some plastic film.
"You lay it over the glass itself and just over the frame area. Then you use a hair dryer so it adheres. It may not be the prettiest thing, but it really is going to prevent a lot of heat loss," Markovich said.
You could add a space heater in a chilly room.
"What this is going to do is keep you comfortable at an expense," Markovich explained. "Electricity costs far more than natural gas."
You could spend the weekend looking for more effective energy saving projects to do when the weather gets warmer.
"You are going to get a 30 percent tax credit for any project that is going to improve energy efficiency, if you do it by the end of 2010," he said.
What to Do if You Lose Heat or Hot Water at Home
The New York City Office of Emergency Management has released a list of cold weather tips.
The 2009/2010 heat season began on October 1, 2009, and continues through May 31, 2010. During heat season, residential owners with tenants are required by law to maintain an indoor temperature of at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit between 6 AM and 10 PM when the outdoor temperature falls below 55 degrees. Between 10 PM and 6 AM, building owners must maintain an indoor temperature of 55 degrees when the outside temperature falls below 40 degrees. Hot water is required to be maintained at 120 degrees.
Any New York City tenant without adequate heat or hot water should first speak with the building owner, manager, or superintendent. If the problem is not corrected, tenants should call 311. The Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) will take measures to ensure that your heat and hot water is restored. This may include contacting the building's owner or sending an inspector to verify the complaint or issue a violation. In some cases, HPD will call in emergency contractors to resolve the issue and bill the landlord for the repairs. HPD also may initiate legal action against properties that are issued heat violations, and owners who incur multiple heat violations are subject to litigation seeking maximum litigation penalties and to continued scrutiny on heat and other code deficiencies.
During the last heat season (2008/2009):
Take measures to trap existing warm air and safely stay warm until heat returns, including:
If You Need Emergency Heating Assistance
The Human Resources Administration (HRA) administers the federal Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), which provides low-income people with emergency heating assistance. Eligible residents will receive a payment for fuel delivery, or HRA will arrange for fuel delivery or boiler repair. Emergency assistance is given to those who qualify only once per heating season. Call 311 for more information.
Safe Home Heating Tips
Improper use of portable heating equipment can lead to fire or dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. Take precautions to ensure you are heating your home safely.
Fire safety tips:
Carbon monoxide safety tips:
Staying Warm Outdoors
Exposure to cold can be life-threatening. Avoid serious conditions such as frostbite and hypothermia by taking steps to keep warm.
How to Help Others
Recognize the signs and symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite:
Provide first aid:
The Department of Homeless Services (DHS) continues to use its Cold Weather Emergency Procedure, called Code Blue, to protect unsheltered homeless people, who are more at risk for exposure deaths during the cold winter months. During Code Blue conditions DHS doubles its outreach efforts. Community members that identify someone on the street they believe needs assistance should call 311 and ask for the Mobile Outreach Response Team. The Department of Homeless Services will send an outreach team to the location to assess the individual's condition and take appropriate action.
Outreach workers are on the streets 24 hours a day, seven days a week and are trained to:
For more information about cold weather safety and how you can prepare for emergencies call 311 or visit www.nyc.gov/oem .
And as the cold weather moves in, there's nothing more frustrating than going outside and finding out your car doesn't work.
So what can you do to keep your car working during the cold?
The AAA takes its own advice on winter car care, which starts with snow tires.
"The difference it makes is incredible," AAA's Robert Sinclair said. "In snow deeper than half an inch, all-weather radials are not that effective."
The Tri-State Area has seen far more than half an inch already, and more is coming.
"It's critical that you maintain tire pressure in the winter," Sinclair said.
As the temperature drops, so does your PSI. Then, switch to a winter weight oil.
"Oil thickens in the cold weather and won't work as well, so you need the lowest number possible," Sinclair said.
And maintain your battery.
"Make sure you don't leave your lights on," Sinclair said. "That's like a heart attack to your battery."
Next, check the antifreeze in the radiator. Top it off and change it every three to four years. And make sure you can see to drive. Chances are you need to replace your wipers and add some cleaning fluid that won't freeze.
The entire list, including an oil change but minus the snow tires, should cost less than $50. On top of that, the most expensive thing would be the tires. Try online. You can get them balanced, mounted and delivered right to your repair service.